The Souls of China: The return of religion after Mao
Allen Lane, $55 hb, 480 pp, 9780241305270
In 1989, as the Chinese Communist Party came to terms with the ongoing significance of religion in post-Mao China, they needed a new formula to explain its survival. Religion was, they said, a long-term phenomenon. It had a mass base; it had national dimensions, in that some of China’s nationalities identified strongly with particular religions; but it also had international dimensions – religious ties linked believers to communities outside China. Reaching the end of the list, the bureaucrats seem to have simply thrown up their hands: religion was, they said, complicated.